Manchester United kick-start new Premier League season with win over Leicester City
Manchester United kicked off the new Premier League season with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw in Friday nights clash with Leicester City.
World Cup winner Pogba, who was handed the captains armband, got the hosts off to a flying start with a confident and composed penalty after Daniel Amarteys inexplicable handball, placing the ball in the top corner after an audaciously slow run-up.
The visitors mustered a decent response, though United always looked in control and the game appeared to be put beyond doubt late on by the rampaging Shaw – though Leicester netted an even later consolation.
Pogba started despite only returning to training on Monday, and his cool penalty after just three minutes broke the deadlock – though it would be Uniteds only shot on target until shortly before half-time, with Leicester taking control of proceedings while the hosts played on the break.
Kelechi Iheanacho twice got in behind the Red Devils back-line, but was thwarted by some excellent last-ditch defending, while David de Gea put his shaky World Cup behind him with a superb stop to deny James Maddison.
Man of the match: Eric Bailly
Mourinho spent all summer bemoaning the lack of a world-class centre-back, yet it looks like he had one at Old Trafford all along. United may not have played sparkling attacking football, but they were solid at the back with Bailly especially impressive. He bailed out Victor Lindelof on several occasions, and bullied Iheanacho with his sheer power and physicality. If he can stay fit, he can be a huge player for United this season.
But United begun to reassert control, and for all Leicesters promising play they struggled to fashion any clear chances; it was Claude Puel who blinked first, making a double change on the hour-mark that saw Jamie Vardy enter the fray.
The England international, fresh from a new deal, created one of the best chances of the latter stages, robbing Shaw and firing in a cross to Demarai Gray that produced another brilliant save from De Gea.
New signing watch: Fred
The summer window promised much but delivered little for Mourinho, though he can at least take heart from marquee signing Freds promising debut. He was always willing to pass and move, got stuck in, joined the attack, and brought a touch of Brazilian flair to a midfield that was too often laboured and unadventurous last season. United fans will hope Mourinho doesnt coach that out of him!
That miss should have been punished when Sanchez set up substitute Romelu Lukaku for an easy one-on-one, but Kasper Schmeichel pulled off an incredible stop with his feet to keep Leicester hopes alive.
But United did find a second goal as time run out, with Shaw bursting down the left and, after recovering from a heavy touch, guiding an excellent finish past Schmeichel to net his first ever goal for the Red Devils on his 67th appearance.
The drama did not end there, though, with Leicester setting up a thrilling late finale after Ricardo Pereiras in-swinging cross evaded everyone, rebounded off the post and was then headed home from close range by the alert Vardy, though the visitors could not find an equaliser.
Ultimately the match felt typical of so many performances from United last season, with the side lacking spark and firepower in attack, but ultimately they got the three points they required. Mourinho was ecstatic in the dugout, but he will know there is plenty to work on.
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